Government ‘concerned’ at parts of new EU discrimination laws


The government has hinted that it might not back parts of “comprehensive” new legislation that would extend protection from discrimination across the European Union.
In May, the UK government launched a consultation on the EU’s equal treatment directive, which was approved by the European parliament in April.
The disability charity RADAR welcomed the passing of the directive, which would extend protection from discrimination on the grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief, to the provision of goods and services.
EU directives already outlaw discrimination on all the equality grounds in employment, and on the grounds of race and gender in providing goods and services.
But before the new directive can become law, it has to be agreed by all 27 EU member countries.
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) said it would work to ensure the directive was “effective in tackling discrimination”. It said there would be some crossover with its new equality bill and would try to implement them side by side to minimise costs.
The GEO said it wanted a directive that was “strong and workable and that avoids unintended consequences”.
But it warned in its consultation document that an “explicit reference” to housing in the directive could have “a far reaching impact” on housing providers, as it could be interpreted to require adjustments and modifications to both new and existing homes.
The GEO also said it “would have concerns” about extending the need to make reasonable adjustments to the manufacturing process.
“There would be difficulties in identifying reasonable adjustments which would make a manufactured item accessible to a range of people with a variety of different impairments. It would also risk putting UK manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage compared to those in non EU states.”
The consultation ends on 28 July.